Last Updated: April 24, 2021
Studying Economics at Harvard
The undergraduate and graduate programs of the Department of Economics at Harvard University have been designed for students showing high promise in teaching and research. Admissions are limited, and students are offered ample sources for counseling and advice. The Department of Economics has made it easier for research students to understand the department more by dividing them according to different fields. The different fields in the department are Behavioral Economics, Industrial Organization, Political Economy, Economic Development, International Economics, Public Economics, Econometrics, Theory, Labor Economics, Financial Economics, Macroeconomics, and Economic History.
The Economics department of Harvard University has an advising team comprising two lecturers, one concentration advisor, and a graduate student to guide aspirants in understanding their educational requirements. Students are walked through the best course options and on timing the study of various subjects.
Graduate students gain the benefit of choosing the right job (ranging from working at NGOs to traveling the world!) and completing a postdoctoral degree, stepping into important research programs at government organizations and business enterprises.
Students are allowed to take Economics as their main concentration or as an elective in their undergraduate program. Usually, around 200-250 students will be there per class who concentrate on only economics and they are referred to as concentrators. They can also choose to complete the additional requirements for Honors.
Course Requirements for Concentrators in Economics
- Principles of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
- Stat 100, Stat 104, Stat 109, Stat 110, Applied Math, Math 154, or Ec 20
- Intermediate Micro and Macro Theory
- Sophomore Tutorial
Additional Requirements to Receive Honors
- Thesis Track which includes Math 1b along with multivariable calculus, two semester of Ec 985, senior thesis and the honors exam
- Advanced Course Track which includes Math 1b and multivariable calculus, two ec courses with one of them including a writing requirement and another including an intermediate theory, and an honors exam.
Undergraduate Application Requirements
High school students - both U.S. and international candidates - are required to submit the Universal College Application and Harvard College Questions and Writing Supplement for the Common Application. They also need to submit:
- $75 or a fee waiver
- SAT or ACT writing test scores
- Two SAT Subject Tests scores
- High school report and transcript
- Reports from two teachers
- Mid-year and a final-year school report
Transfer applicants need to submit the above mentioned along with the Common/Universal College Transfer Application, College/Registrar's report, College transcript, and two recommendation letters from college instructors.
Opportunities after Graduation
Students are given multiple options to choose from after their graduation. They can either choose to pursue higher studies and in the recent years, most of the students opt for jobs in various fields like
- Social Service
- Charitable Work
Students who opt for higher studies choose fields like
- M.A in Economics
- Professional Degrees
Taking a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard opens up opportunities for students to take up careers in fields like teaching and for applying for positions in the government, research organizations, or even business enterprises. The program offers students at least 15 seminars a week comprising of speakers from both domestic and international communities which allows the students to specialize in these said fields.
People applying to Harvard can apply for more than one program since the university offers Ph.D. programs in Business Economics, Political Economy and Government, Public Policy, and Health Policy. Students who are selected for these programs will be able to stay in close contact with the economics department since most of their courses overlap.
Post-Graduate Course/PhD Application Requirements
Harvard University offers only a full-time Ph.D. program and expects students to devote their every minute to study. Graduates with strong training in economics and mathematics are selected from institutions with English as the language of instruction. Students proficient in real analysis, probability, differential equations, and statistics gain an edge.
Students should submit
- Online application form that has been completed
- Statement of Purpose
- Transcripts from all colleges/universities student has studied in.
- GRE scores
- Three recommendation letters
- An application fee of $105 paid through a credit card
- Writing sample
General Oral Examination
Students have 13 subjects to choose from for the one-hour General Oral Examination that is a two-term study. However, they can dedicate more terms to this study.
After passing this examination, students are required to participate in a working seminar or informal lunchtime seminar and must present a dissertation within one year.
Eligibility Requirements for Ph.D. in Economics
Students who are planning to apply for the Ph.D. program in Economics must
- Have beyond basic knowledge about the principles in Economics.
- Demonstrate research-based skills or have worked as a research assistant in which case they have to submit a letter from the supervisor indicating their research-based knowledge.
- Have knowledge in basic mathematics including calculus and linear algebra.
- include a writing sample of at least 15 pages in length
Expectations from Ph.D Students
Once admitted to the Ph.D course, students are required to:
- take a written examination in economic theory
- meet course requirements in distribution and quantitative methods
- present a research paper in the second year
- appear for an oral examination in any two specialized fields
- present a seminar on the research subject
- prepare a doctoral dissertation
Financial Assistance Offered
The tuition fee
for the first two years for this program is around $50,928
and yet, Harvard has a record of 100% debt-free graduates. Nearly 70% of its students receive some form of financial aid with about 20% of student families paying nothing. This is because Harvard offers need-based scholarships. The students who are enrolled for courses are given a financial package that includes support for tuition and their health insurance. The students are also given a living stipend for the first two years along with teaching and research assistant stipends. They also receive a completion fellowship while in their final year of the program.
Students can receive the Dissertation Completion Fellowship in their final year of study. Apart from the popular scholarships, the GSAS also provides other research fellowships to students applying for scholarships. Faculty members also offer research positions that are important to the program which helps students acquaint themselves with the professors and also eventually help them receive a salary after their second year.
Harvard has a job cell with career counselors to help its graduates land the most suitable jobs. Surveys show that an average Harvard graduate earns $60,000. But salaries vary dramatically across industries. Consulting is the most popular, with about 72% of graduates drawing salaries between $70,000 and $90,000. Those opting for the financial sector have salaries crossing $110,000. Those who take to teaching earn in the $30,000 to $50,000 bracket in the first year out of university.